Periodontal Disease—Why Brush?
Periodontal (gum) disease can lead to tooth loss and affects most dogs before they are 3 years old. Bacteria from periodontal disease can spread to affect other organs and cause illness. One of the best ways to help prevent periodontal disease is to brush your dog’s teeth on a regular basis—daily, if he or she will allow it.
Dogs are never too young to start having their teeth brushed at home; in fact, the younger they are, the better.
Before you start brushing your dog’s teeth, have them checked by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may recommend a dental cleaning to remove any existing plaque and tartar, which contribute to periodontal disease. If your dog has severe dental disease, extraction of the affected teeth may be recommended. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendation on how long to wait after dental cleaning or extraction before brushing your dog’s teeth.
What You Need
Note: Do not use toothpaste for people or baking soda because these can upset your dog’s stomach. Pet toothpaste comes in different flavors (e.g., poultry, beef). You may need to try a couple flavors to find the one your dog likes the best. The more your dog likes the toothpaste, the easier it will be to train him or her to accept brushing.
Other Ways to Control Plaque
Although there’s no substitute for regular toothbrushing, some dogs just won’t allow it. If you can’t brush your dog’s teeth, ask your veterinarian about plaque-preventive products. Feeding dry food may also help keep your dog’s teeth and gums in good condition. The Seal of Acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council appears on products that meet defined standards for plaque and tartar control in dogs and cats.
Signs of Dental Problems
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